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Graduate Study in Environment and Society
Department of Environment and Society
S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
Utah State University

The degrees in Environment and Society (ENVS) were created in response to a growing demand in natural resource fields for more interdisciplinary professionals with diverse skills and broader intellectual capabilities. It is being recognized, for example, that social and managerial sciences are increasingly important in helping society better understand and solve environmental problems. The ENVS program will produce students who are problem solvers because they will be able to integrate human and biophysical aspects of ecosystems, and better analyze policies and decisions that encourage both community and ecosystem sustainability. The ENVS degrees will train students for professional positions with local, state, national, and international resource management agencies, private consulting and environmental analysis firms, and non-governmental environmental organizations. The M.S. degree will prepare students for professional practice in natural resources and environmental management and planning, policy and program analysis, public affairs, environmental education, community assessment and collaboration, conflict management, and extension/outreach positions. The Ph.D. program puts greater emphasis on basic theory and research methods in one or more social science disciplines, depending on the student’s interests. The Ph.D. will prepare students for university teaching, research, and extension; conducting agency and private organization research; and for positions in formal policy and program evaluation.

The M.S. degree will require a minimum of 30 credits beyond the baccalaureate and one of two thesis options: the Plan A requires students to complete a research thesis or the Plan B, which is a non-thesis, terminal degree based largely on course work and a professional paper or project. The Ph.D. degree will require a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, a comprehensive qualifying exam, and a research dissertation. Compared to M.S., the Ph.D. degree has a greater emphasis on theory, research methods, writing research proposals, and publishing research in peer-reviewed outlets. Coursework for both the M.S. and Ph.D. students will include core courses, seminars, and electives that allow students to select courses in a specific problem area–like water, wildlife, or recreation–and theory and methods courses in discipline areas outside Natural Resources. For example, students interested in environmental education may take electives in education or communications, students interested in attitudes and conflict management may take electives in sociology, psychology, and communications, and students interested in policy may take electives in political science, economics, or business management.

Core Courses:

ENVS 6000—Theoretical Foundations in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management

This course will provide an overview of interdisciplinary theories and frameworks concerning how human societies affect, and are affected by, ecosystem processes at local, regional, and global scales. While introducing theoretical contributions from various disciplines, this course primarily focuses on systems theory, social and environmental sustainability, and methods for integrating the bio-physical and human dimensions of ecosystems. Implications for ecosystem planning, policy, and management are explored. (Fall; 3 credits)

ENVS 6700—Research Approaches in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management

This course will focus on conceptualizing natural resource and environmental problems involving interactions between human societies and ecosystems, and on assessing alternative research approaches and designs for addressing those problems. Research approaches for integrating spatial and temporal data, as well as integrating bio-physical and social data, are reviewed. The course uses model case studies that emphasize hypothesis generation and testing. (Spring; 3 credits)

ENVS 6800—Environment and Society Departmental Seminar

This weekly seminar provides an opportunity for sharing current research and scholarly activity of the faculty and graduate students in the College and the Department, and provides a forum for presentations by distinguished guests on campus. Students take this seminar every semester they are registered as graduate students and give one presentation each academic year. (Fall and Spring; 1 credit)

ENVS 6840—Graduate Introductory Seminar for Environment and Society

Each faculty member of the Department of Environment and Society meets with the first-year graduate students to discuss their academic areas of specialization. (Fall; 1 credit)

Proposed General Course of Study:

M.S. Degree


Required Courses: 12
  Theoretical Foundations (3)  
  Research Approaches (3)  
  Seminars (2)  
  ENVS Graduate Introductory  Seminar (1)  

 Statistics (3)
  Theory Depth (6-9)  
  NR/E Problem Area (6-9)  
  Methods/Statistics (3-6)  
Thesis/Project Research: 3-6
  Plan A Thesis (6), OR  
  Plan B Paper or Project (3)  
TOTAL Credits: 30

Ph.D. Degree


Required Courses: 14-16
  Theoretical Foundations (3)  
  Research Approaches (3)  
  Seminars (4-6)  
 Statistics (3)  
Electives: 4-26
  Theory Depth (9-15)  
  NR/E Problem Area (9-15)  
  Methods/Statistics (6-9)  
Dissertation Research: 12-18
TOTAL Credits: *30 - 60

* Ph.D credit requirements: 30 required credits for students with a Master's degree, 60 for students without a Master's degree

For further information on Graduate Study in Environment and Society contact the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, 5215 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322-5215; Telephone (435) 797-1790.  To view a list of ENVS faculty who accept graduate students please visit